Who Invited You Lot?

Wed 8th – Sat 11th August 2012

reviews

Leah Eades

at 01:36 on 10th Aug 2012

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Although Goldsmiths Students’ Union’s production of ‘Who Invited You Lot?’ sells itself as ‘a fresh take on a classic English farce’, I struggled to find anything particularly ‘fresh’ or original about it. Farce is a difficult genre for an inexperienced playwright to tackle, as it relies on being over-the-top and ridiculous, and if such theatrical hyperbole is not properly handled the whole thing falls apart into a scattered plot reliant on clichés. Unfortunately it seems that student writer Steven Nass, who penned this production, overreached himself on this occasion.

The plot revolved around a suitably farcical situation – two friends in love with the same married woman – with murder, nosy neighbours, mistaken identities and a serial killer known as the Seaside Stabber thrown into the mix. So far, so farcical. However, a satisfying ending in farce relies upon the various, seemingly-random strands of the plot all tying together in one comical conclusion, with the various characters getting their various comeuppances, and this production fell short of that. Although many elements of farce were there – an ever-increasing pace, chase scene, revelations, and confessions – it did not give an impression of multiple plot threads suddenly coming together, but rather one ridiculous situation developing into another equally ridiculous one. Furthermore, the majority of characters failed to endear themselves throughout the play (the exception being, oddly, the Seaside Stabber, who is surprisingly likeable) so that there was no real sense of poetic justice at the end.

It wasn’t all negative; there were some good gags in there, and I particularly enjoyed the wordplay of the sibilant Seaside Stabber serial killer headlines. The standard of acting was also on the whole good, and the comic timing was spot on. However, the production was very much let down by the lack of effort that had gone into staging and set, with cast members sitting down, in plain view, on chairs next to the audience when not officially on stage, and a set that consisted of a table, a blanket, some bottles and a dummy knife. Although they did a good job of evoking the world around them with such limited props, the whole thing did feel strikingly amateur in contrast to most of the other university productions currently performing. Is it really too much to put a curtain up to screen the off-stage cast from view? Although this production had potential, I feel more time and effort should have gone into the script and the production if they wanted it to be its best.

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Karl Dando

at 01:38 on 10th Aug 2012

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'Who Invited You Lot?' is an original farce by Goldsmiths student Steven Nass. It is a likeable but flawed production, most unfortunately let down by its venue: Café Camino is simply too large a space for this small a show, and the echoes combined with the glare of white walls, uncovered windows and a barely-dressed set all make the show seem more like an amateurish distraction than a wrought and cohesive event.

It is a shame, because there is generally an admirable energy, especially in the double-act of the squabbling leads who, with a hint of Rik Mayall-esque flouncing physicality, offer a decent version of the immortal 2-idiots dynamic. As those other uninvited characters proceed to arrive, things are shaken somewhat by some patchy performances, but on the whole the cast is generally entertaining enough. The writing likewise is enthusiastic but in places under-worked – too much of the quick-fire dialogue falls flat, although there are some genuinely funny moments – and the comic resolution in undermined by slightly not making sense.

The sparseness of the stage – a table, chairs, a few bottles – is also unsatisfying: emulating its antecedents, this modern farce observes the classical ‘unities’ of time and place, but unfortunately that place is not much of a place at all. The lack of interesting stage design emphasises the weaker performances and hinders the more impressive, and ultimately speaks of the absence of a strong directing hand. With a more considered sense of theatre driving it, this new engagement with tradition might be something really worth seeing, but as it stands it feels too much like it could use more effort.

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